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Opinions & Interviews

29 Jan 2018

Harstedt praises Belarus’ participation in OSCE PA

Harstedt praises Belarus’ participation in OSCE PA

MINSK, 29 January (BelTA) - OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Eastern Europe Kent Harstedt welcomed Belarus’ active engagement in the work of the Assembly in an interview to the ONT TV Channel on 28 January, BelTA has learned.

“I would like to note that we highly appreciate the participation of Belarus in the work of the OSCE PA. 2017 was a special year, as Belarus agreed to host the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly, which played a very important role for its image within the OSCE PA. Hundreds of MPs from 56 countries came here for the meeting,” said Kent Harstedt. In his words, these influential people received good impressions of what is taking place in Belarus.

Belarus has been taking an active part in the PA’s activities, suggesting its initiatives in different areas. They pertain to the environment, measures to counter trafficking in drugs and persons. Belarus is making great progress in this area, Kent Harstedt said.

As for Belarus’ initiative to launch Helsinki-2 process, the PA’s special representative noted that this is not the issue to discuss in the PA. It is for the governments of the OSCE participating states to consider. “I believe that within the OSCE, Belarus has the right to suggest such initiatives. Belarus is already well-known across the globe as a venue for Minsk talks,” he said.

The proposal to restart the Helsinki process needs a concrete planning, Kent Harstedt said during his interview to the Belarus One TV Channel. “We discussed this together with the minister of foreign affairs. Belarus would like to do a lot within the framework of the OSCE. It seems to me that the reason for this initiative is the desire of Belarus to do as much as possible for the organization. The OSCE needs such initiatives from all its participating countries,” the special representative said.

The negotiations in Minsk have not addressed all problems yet. Kent Harstedt believes that this is not because of the venue itself. “I think that this platform - apart from helping to settle the conflict in the east of Ukraine - may produce more. Minsk has established itself as a reliable negotiating platform. I personally encourage new initiatives in this area,” the special representative said.

Kent Harstedt is confident that Belarus can be among the countries that are considered bridges between East and West. Europe often talks about other countries, for example, Austrian Vienna or Poland, and Finland, as such bridges. “We can say with confidence that Belarus can be among them thanks to the way the country has showed itself, in particular during the Minsk talks. The area between East and West is very large, and we need to have a number of connecting bridges. Belarus is one of them,” he concluded.

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